Kashi Art Café
Fort Kochi has a lively contemporary art scene and draws many bohemian artists thanks to its laidback atmosphere—the acclaimed Kochi-Muziris Biennale, set up by Keralan-born artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu in 2012, is one such case in point. Kashi Art Café, a hip but relaxed café-cum-art-gallery, is the beating heart of the contemporary art scene in Fort Kochi, operating as a space for art residencies and pop-up installations from contemporary Indian and expat artists. It also offers the perfect place to relax with an espresso while hiding from the tropical heat. Curator Tanya Abraham selects a diverse mix of contemporary Indian and expat painters and sculptors, which have included celebrated National Award Winner G.R. Iranna’s first solo painting show in South India. With an airy, light-filled ambience dotted with quirky sculptures and art, it’s easy to let the hours slip away here: during the 2012 Biennale (the first art Biennale held in India), it was hard to find a single visitor who didn’t while away their time enjoying the art on display and indulging in a slice or two of the café’s much-loved chocolate cake, which is baked in-house per their special recipe. While other cafes in Kochi oriented for Western tastebuds tend to fall back on prosaic backpacker fare like sandwiches, French fries, and banana pancakes, the café offers an excellent spread of Western breakfasts (its decadent French toast with tropical fruit is particularly popular) and an ever-rotating menu of lunch specials. For those in need of a caffeine fix, Kashi Art Café also offers strong and freshly-ground single origin coffee from the plantations along the Malabar Coast, which is an unusual rarity in Kerala—though the region Coast is renowned for its coffee, locals usually take their coffee weak and export the best beans overseas.
Burgher Street; 91-484/2215769; Kashi Art Gallery; mains from US$4